Having loyally supported the scheme since it was launched at Edinburgh Castle in 2011, this year’s Team SSE Scottish Hydro has a fresh look to it, with five newcomers among the six players receiving support through the initiative.
Gemma Dryburgh, Kelsey MacDonald, Ross Kellett, Ewen Ferguson and Grant Forrest join David Law, who was a newbie himself last year, in the ‘Class of 2017’ as SSE Hydro, one of Scottish golf’s biggest supporters, hopes to help more young professionals make progress in the game.
Over the past six years, Team SSE Scottish Hydro players have won two Ladies European Tour events and four European Challenge Tour events while seven players have secured their full European Tour card, including Duncan Stewart among the current batch.
“Team SSE Scottish Hydro has provided support to the likes of Craig Lee, Chris Doak, Duncan Stewart, Andrew McArthur, Jamie McLeary, Kylie Henry and Pamela Pretswell since 2011 and it has had a good level of success,” said Colin Banks, head of sponsorship and reward at SSE Scottish Hydro. “However, it is now time to try and help the next generation of young Scottish professionals, and we are delighted that five out of the six players receiving support this year are newcomers to Team SSE Scottish Hydro.”
Dryburgh and MacDonald are both delighted to be part of the initiative for the first time, the boost coming as they bid to add to Henry’s brace of wins on the Ladies European Tour, where Pretswell has been knocking on the door as well over the past couple of seasons. Aberdeen-born Dryburgh is in her second season on the circuit, finishing 60th on the money-list last year, when she also made it to the final of LPGA Qualifying School in Florida.
“I am really excited and honoured to be part of Team SSE Scottish Hydro this year,” said the 23-year-old. “To be involved with some of the best up-and-coming Scottish golfers is very exciting and motivates me to keep improving my game. The help from SSE Scottish Hydro will be so valuable and I can’t thank them enough for their support in my second year as a professional.”
MacDonald, the 2010 Scottish Women’s champion from Nairn, enjoyed her best season so far on the LET last year, finishing 56th on the Order of Merit. The 26-year-old has already chalked up a top-20 finish this season, helped by a third-round 67 that included nine birdies, in the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco.
“This support is such a great boost and allows me to compete at the highest level,” said MacDonald.
Motherwell man Kellett has just started his fourth Challenge Tour campaign, having claimed 48th spot on last year’s Road to Oman on the European Tour’s development circuit. “I am delighted to be receiving support from Team SSE Scottish Hydro this year,” said the 29-year-old. “They have been a huge supporter for golf in this country now for many years and continue to support not only Challenge Tour players but our own event on that circuit in Aviemore each year. The support has proven very worthwhile for many players over the years progressing to the main tour and I am excited to be part of this support for the 2017 season.”
Ferguson, 20, and Forrest, 23, are both in their first full seasons in the professional ranks, having been in the winning Walker Cup side at Royal Lytham in 2015. The pair were recently announced as the first players to receive support through a separate initiative involving SSE Scottish Hydro, Aberdeen Asset Management, Scottish Golf and Bounce Sports Management.
Law, who turned 26 yesterday, has three Challenge Tour campaigns under his belt, finishing 66th on the money-list in 2014, 70th in 2015 and 72nd last year. He’s mentored by Paul Lawrie and will be aiming to use this second year of support to try to join the 1999 Open champion at the top table in European golf next season.
“We are pleased to continue to do more to support some of Scotland’s talented professional golfers and we welcome Gemma, Kelsey, Ewen, Grant and Ross to the programme,” added Banks. “Over the past six years, Team SSE Scottish Hydro players have enjoyed some great successes, including wins in two Ladies European Tour events and seven players securing their full European Tour card.
“We hope that, in some way, SSE has made a difference and helped them to achieve this. This is an exciting time for Scottish golf and we look forward to following this year’s players as they continue their development to the top tier of European golf.”